Wisconsin's Great River Road parallels the majestic Mississippi River as it winds its way along 250 miles of the state's western border. It ranks as one of the most scenic roads in the Midwest, flanked by 400-foot-tall sandstone bluffs and lined with historic little river towns. Several state parks and wildlife refuges provide easy access to boating, fishing and birding.
Be prepared to drive slowly and make frequent stops—the Great River Road includes several historic markers and scenic overlooks. The most popular vantage points are Buena Vista Park in Alma with its expansive view north and south from a rocky outcrop, Maiden Rock State Natural Area's namesake rocky point where legend has it an American Indian maiden leapt to avoid a forced marriage, and the Rush River Produce for a bucolic, sweeping view of Lake Pepin. Visitors may even glimpse eagles wafting above the bluffs and steamboats paddling downriver. River towns lure visitors to stop and hunt through antiques shops, dine on catfish and other local specialties, and bed down at a wide range of charming century-old inns and bed-and-breakfasts.
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism website offers helpful maps and detailed information about towns along the route.